The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja yesterday ordered the federal government to pay a journalist, Agba Jalingo, N30 million as compensation for the ill-treatment and torture he received while in detention in Cross River State.
Jalingo was arrested and reported to have been chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court. The court said having studied the suit and facts provided by SERAP, an NGO, there was no reason why Jalingo was arrested and illegally detained, brutalized and dehumanized.
The court said the action of security agencies was against human rights agreements, particularly the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a signatory.
“On the claims of compensation for ill-treatment and torture, SERAP has been able to establish the claims. We condemn the Nigerian government for these acts, and hereby award compensation of N30 million to Mr. Jalingo for violations of his human rights”, the court said.
The government was ordered to comply within three months and file a process to the effect. Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana, said in view of the brutalization of Nigerians by the police and other security agencies, the judgment came at the right time.
He warned them to desist from infringing on the human rights of Nigerians including criminal suspects who are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved in court.